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   Chapter 31 FREEDOM OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

The Wonderful Story of Washington By Charles M. Stevens Characters: 6183

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04


The Farewell Address of Washington to Congress contains advice on our foreign relations which is part of any study of his life. The most important of this is as follows: "The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

"Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none, or a very remote, relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

"Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

"Why forego the advantages of as peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

"It is our duty to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs that honesty is always the best policy.

"Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies."

Washington in his will, disposing of his swords, says, "These swords are accompanied with an injunction not to unsheath them for the purpose of shedding blood except it be for self-defense, or in defense of their country and its rights, and in the latter case to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands to the relinquishment thereof."

Related to the Farewell Address and as a corollary to it is what is known as "The Monroe Doctrine."

The "Monroe Doctrine" as a policy of the United States is founded upon two passages in President Monroe's message to Congress on Dec. 2, 1823. These passages follow:

"In the discussion to which this interest has given rise, and in the arrangements by which they may terminate, the occasion has been deemed proper for asserting, as a principle in which rights and interests of t

he United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power. * * *

"We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them or controlling in any other manner their destiny by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States."

Two notable explanations have been given, as follows:

Secretary of State Olney in his dispatch of July 20, 1895, on the Venezuelan boundary dispute, said:

"It (the Monroe Doctrine) does not establish any general protectorate by the United States over other American States. It does not relieve any American State from its obligations as fixed by international law, nor prevent any European power directly interested from enforcing such obligations or from inflicting merited punishment for the breach of them."

President Roosevelt, in a speech in 1902 upon the results of the Spanish-American war, said:

"The Monroe Doctrine is simply a statement of our very firm belief that the nations now existing on this continent must be left to work out their own destinies among themselves, and that this continent is no longer to be regarded as the colonizing ground of any European power. The one power on the continent that can make the power effective is, of course, ourselves; for in the world as it is, a nation which advances a given doctrine, likely to interfere in any way with other nations, must possess the power to back it up, if it wishes the doctrine to be respected."

President Wilson in an address to the Senate of the United States, Jan. 22, 1917, advised an American interest in an extension of the Monroe Doctrine. The main points were as follows:

"No peace can last, or ought to last, which does not recognize and accept the principle that governments derive all their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that no right anywhere exists to hand people about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were property.

"I am proposing, as it were, that the nations should with one accord adopt the doctrine of President Monroe as the doctrine of the world: That no nation should seek to extend its policy over any other nation or people, but that every people should be left free to determine its own policy, its own way of development, unhindered, unthreatened, unafraid, the little along with the great."

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